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IDC: NT usage is mostly hype 116

zealot writes "This CNN story reports that International Data Corp. has done research on OS use in businesses and has determined that the amount of NT usage is mostly hype and marketing. It is typically only used for departmental infrastructure, and hardly ever for mission critical stuff. UNIX is still alive and kicking. "
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IDC: NT usage is mostly hype

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  • by Anonymous Coward
    From the IDC item:

    "Media reports of Windows NT's acceptance have not given a clear picture
    of where and when Windows NT is really being used."

    "Media reports often leave the impression that Windows NT is being adopted
    by organizations of all sizes for every conceivable mission and that
    organizations are abandoning their investments in other operating
    environments," said Dan Kusnetzky, program director for IDC's Operating
    Environments and Serverware research programs. "However, when IDC shines
    the light of empirical research on Windows NT usage, a different view

    And this summary from The Register:

    "Presumably IDC means that Microsoft is putting this information out, and
    it's largely going into the press, unchallenged and highly-spun."

    The point being not only that NT isn't really making the enterprise
    penetration that we have been led to believe, but that the IT trade press
    is being at least irresponsible in the way they report on the issue.
    And that assessment is the most benign of the possibilities.
  • I think it has long been known to companies that write software for both UNIX and WinNT that NT is only used in less important situations.

    This is nice, but more info for the masses and the small shops than the big corps.
  • The point is:


    At least not to run Payroll, Data Werehouse, Customer Accounting and Info, etc. in fortune 1000.

    What is it doing? File and Print. Email and "workflow" (please approve my expense report numbers, thank you!)

    I am in a Fortune 500 financial firm, who's stock doubles every time someone says "Internet". We have NT on every user's desktop, and do file/print/application on about 3000 NT servers. Still, we do nothing that could be called "core business", "mission-critical" or "data center" on NT.

    We do a lot of heavy lifting of Oracle databases on Sun Microsystems, and DB2 on IBM RS/6K SP2.

    But the REAL business? The focus of huge amounts of critical attention and process?

    The systems that the CEO discusses with the CIO?

    That, my friend, belongs to the 390 instruction-set on the Mainframe.

  • You've brought something to mind that I've been wondering about for a while now. I seem to recall, back when the first NT betas were being tested, that NT was being touted both as the replacement to Windows 3.1 and Microsoft's answer to OS/2 (32 bit, multitasking, etc).

    I remember that at the time, OS/2 was catching a lot of flack for its heavy hardware requirements (needed 8 megs of RAM!); then reports that NT's were worse started appearing, and next thing you know NT is a 'next generation network operating system' being touted for its excellent security (and this was still quite some time before it was released). So am I right and NT was originally positioned (and written) as a heavier duty desktop operating system, or has someone slipped something into my coffee?

    On a (semi) related note about Microsoft's sway over the press: when I saw the first book about using NT hit the shelves, I decided to time how long it was from that point to its actual release. It was just over 13 months.

    Ok, I'm obviously on crack. I just saw a Microsoft banner ad at the top of the preview page. Just when you think it's safe to go back in the water...

  • MS has backed off saying the intended merger of Win9x and NT would occur with NT 5.0 (a,k,a, Win2000).

    This appears to be a prudent step allowing them to focus on the server aspects of the system. Moreover, converting NT into a stabile, high performance OS is daunting enough a task without attempting to fill the gaping holes in its desktop application and device support.

  • Well, I hate to disagree, but having run SunOs and Sparc Linux on the same hardware, I would say that SparcLinux is more reliable and faster.

    True up to a point, but I don't think anybody will claim that Linux is the right choice for running Oracle or Informix on a 10GB 16-way E4500. A lot of work has gone into scaling Solaris up on really big systems. I personally think Linux will get there, but it's definitely not there yet.


  • ...and point out that the E4500 can only handle a maximum of 14 CPUs.

    Erk--my bad. I forgot that network & disk takes a slot. I'm more familiar with SGI boxen than Suns anyhow...

    Doesn't invalidate my point though ;)


  • I do the opposite; I use Linux for my desktop, and administer the #$()@*# NT boxes via vnc.

    What's wrong with Netscape? Works for me.

    Beats having to actually use Windows.

    Get your fresh, hot kernels right here [kernel.org]!

  • Except that Unix or VMS doesn't play tricks like that with you. You install it once and that's it. You can then pretty much ingore it (security updates) maybe for YEARS.

    Unix will be stable long enough for you to forget just how it was you managed to configure it originally.

  • Well, as one of colleagues just commented - of course it sells more, you need more - one for email, for for fileserving/printing, two for authentication (PDC/BDC), one per 10 hits/sec on webserver :-)

  • of course, no-one seriously suggests that you can run NT for high-volume OLTP, say, for that you need a serious piece of kit like a Sequent. And NT
    doesn't even run on the hardware you'd need for serious data warehousing. Rock solid medium sized databases on a E450, AXP running VMS or an AS/400, for example, are superior to NT - for now.

    but if you want to run a data mart, OLAP and decision support, NT is excellent. It's cheap,
    Sphinx handles medium sized datasets well if you're going with pure MS, and Oracle on NT is much better (actually far better than Oracle on Linux), and NTS/NTW integrate easily, there are plenty of tools available, &c &c.

    Remember that NT isn't that old - how long did it take Unix to become accepted? here in the UK, it was 1998 before the Inland Revenue felt that Unix was powerful enough to support their operations (they were running on ICL VME machines) and how they're porting to HP and Sequent. Many data centres are sticking with their IBM kit because Unix simply won't cut it for their operations.

    This isn't to say that either NT or Unix are intrinsically bad, but the fact is simply that you have to deploy the right tool in the right circumstance. Linux, for example, is great for a cheap X windows desktop, or a low volume web server - but can anyone honestly say that AMEX or NASDAQ could run their transactions on it? or serve a site like cnn.com?

    or on NT? of course not.
  • I seriously suggest that if you don't believe that SQL 7.0 and NT 4.0 can sustain high transaction load, you're wrong,

    I have powerful, highly available NT servers too, altho' not handling quite that much load. when i said high transaction loads, I meant high, of the scale of a country's cheque clearing for example.

    I've been using Sphinx since beta 1, and I like it a lot. What I like most about NT is it gives me a complete platform, SQL/MSMQ/MTS/IIS all sitting nicely together.

    57 servers that prove you wrong. Individually, these servers are not as high powered as a 14 processor Enterprise 6000 running Oracle

    57 servers cheaper than an E6000? hmm, i think you need to look at these [hp.com].

  • VMS's kernel is multitasking, but not multiuser,

    you've never actually seen a VMS machine, have you?

    Why Unix/Linux is better? Unix is the de-facto incarnation of all OS-research/science teached at Universities (there can't be anything better)

    you've never been into a real-world data centre, have you?

  • Many people are only exposed to small and midrange servers running Unix flavors, and they seem to assume that Unix is all there is in serverland outside Windows. Not so!! There are MANY other solutions in the mid-range and the high end which have little to do with Unix. Most colleges don't do mainframes, but we sure do in the business world. I'll take an OS/390 or OS2200 server over Unix anyday for capacity and stability. :-)
    -Rich (OS/2, Linux, Mac, NT, Solaris, FreeBSD, BeOS, and OS2200 user in Bloomington MN)
  • The problem is that Microsoft, while trying to create a client-server architecture like Unix, has also maintained most of the consumer-appealing aspects of its Windows line. Windows was always a consumer-oriented operating system, so it comes as no surprise to me that a) people don't want to use it for high-end server tasks and b) that Microsoft hasn't done a good job with the server aspects. The fact that Microsoft is shipping a "home user" version of Windows 2000 whenever it does ship is ludicrous. It's the same basic operating system with more actual server-like utilities in the "Enterprise" version. Microsoft needs to quit worrying about appealing to Ma and Pa and start worrying about the actual server characteristics of its OS. When that's finished, /then/ go back and tweak the UI. This is essentially the position that Linux is in, and we know about the stability of Linux.

    Where I work, we have both Unix and NT systems. We use NT as basically a file-sharing system for Windows computers and use Unix for everything else. Guess how often the NT machine has to be taken down for some reason or another.
  • The only mention I have seen in the UK press about the recent Office 2000 conference were in Network News, no mention in PC Week.

    And before you ask, it was a total disaster. About 90% of the demonstrations crashed and none of the marketing droids could give any answers. The consensus of opinion seems to be that MS are trying to squeeze it in before Y2K change freezes come into place.
  • At a recent seminar that I went to it was stated that 54% of all NT servers are used for authentication, file and print. There wasn't a figure for servers used to support MS or Citrix "thin client", but it must be fairly substantial.

    This being so the number of systems running real applications can't be that great.
  • NT is stable where I work as long as it is booted nightly. They all reboot automatically at 23:00. Regardless, sometimes icons and entire programs disapear at random requiring a reinstall. Go figure.

    I have yet to make Linux fail through non superuser or physical access. Not to mention I much prefer the Linux environment and X.
  • by bpdlr ( 3132 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:02AM (#1922290) Homepage Journal

    The guy who is quoted in the story, Dan Kusnetzky, also did the Linux report that came up with the 212% growth figure, but he also told me that IDC only expects Linux to grow by 25% per year for the next five years. That doesn't make sense, does it? He was also very sceptical of the figures for Linux installs, and admitted that IDC's methodology was not "efficient", and they only had two years-worth of statistically significant data to work from.

    Other comments of his were more FUDdy, though - he believes Linux is "like Unix was in the early 70's" and could suffer from fragmentation.

    Oh, and he can talk the hind legs off a donkey ;). He once talked to me on his mobile, in his car, all the way from his hotel to the conference he was attending in San Francisco - about an hour at least. And he did all the talking.


    Barry de la Rosa,
    Reporter, PC Week (UK)
    Work: barry_delarosa[at]vnu.co.uk,
    tel. +44 (0)171 316 9364

  • Microsoft's first product was not Xenix. It was a clone of Wang BASIC written for the Altair computer. Paul Allen wrote it back around 1975 I think. Xenix came somewhat later, around 1982?

    Yeah, Xenix had to come later because Xenix ran on Intel hardware. I've worked on a Xenix system...a crusty old 386 server with 5 Wyse-60 terminals. It sucked (this was in 1997 :). Still, Xenix was an interesting departure - now it's yet another footnote in computing history, which is filled with oddities and tales of high drama and intrigue.

    Somebody should offer a Computing History class or something like that :)

  • You need to find out which processes are leaking. You can do this via Perf mon and logging the Memory and process counters to disk. Once done, figure out what processes are in use the most and when they leak doing macro operations, like, it leaks when I create a new document.

    After identifying which processes leak, you can generally fix the leak by quitting and restarting the process. I notice that Outlook sometimes creeps up to 11 MB when I've used Word as my e-mail editor. By quitting OL98, winword.exe and OL, RAM usage goes down immensely.

    NT, like VMS (but without the easily settable quotas), uses the concept of working sets to control RAM usage. Sometimes your process is leaking like a seive using the page file, but it's not actually paging. Again, quit the app, and you reclaim the space.

    Tips for reducing RAM usage: set to manual any services or devices you aren't using. This can save upwards of 8 Mb of RAM. Don't use Active Desktop unless you need it (another 8 MB saved), and don't use Word as your e-mail editor (about 11 MB saved).

    Good luck

  • no-one seriously suggests that you can run NT for high-volume OLTP

    We use SQL 7.0 here for high volume distributed transactions, and we're coming up to the rough edges of the performance envelope now on medium level hardware (IBM NetFinity 5500 PII/400's). The system is coping with high transaction loads now, and will cope with processing more than three million transactions in one single evening soon. Closer to the day, I'll let you all know the URL where you can see the public front end at work.

    I seriously suggest that if you don't believe that SQL 7.0 and NT 4.0 can sustain high transaction load, you're wrong, and I have 57 servers that prove you wrong. Individually, these servers are not as high powered as a 14 processor Enterprise 6000 running Oracle, but then again, they're about 1/15th the cost in hardware alone. You pay for what you get.

    In the production environment that I manage, I have some NT 4.0 boxes that I have not rebooted since I installed SP4, which means more than three month up time. If I was at work, I'd be able to tell you the exact days. These servers are hammered; in one case I have a bridgehead server which processes at least 100 disk I/O's every second sustained from 7.30 am until after 9 pm every day. It's still going strong after several weeks of continuous service (when it was first let loose on the production network).

    As a production environment we also patch our Solaris servers as well. If you have Solaris servers that haven't been rebooted in a year, you have non-y2k compliant servers, and if I were you, I'd fix that. Uptime is meaningless come Jan 1 2000. Get used to it.

  • Unless you purchase NT with a new computer, it's simply too expensive for most compaines to "upgrade" to it ($250 a pop). It just isn't worth it.
    It is OK as long as you get a resonable configuration and then leave it alone.
  • > Nasdaq is currently run on umax machines running
    > nt and microsoft nt server in a cluster
    > configuration.

    That's actually not strictly true. Some of Nasdaq's non-critical systems are NT boxes in the configuration you describe, but that's about the extent of their NT deployment.

    Unfortunately, their use in non-mission-critical stuff has somehow reduced to the meme "Nasdaq uses NT", which is correct, but misleading. They don't rely on it for mission-critical systems.
  • In my company, the NT servers that we use do decent file/print services. NT Terminal Server is the biggest headache I have to face. UGGGHHH! I hate that thing!!

    Fortunately...all the web/intranet/sql stuff is Linux...muhahaha
  • I work in a DC exclusively with NT, and it's not great. But it does work. Nevbertheless, as capacity increases, unix becomes the only real solution.

    - C

  • by kzinti ( 9651 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:34AM (#1922298) Homepage Journal
    I'm reminded of a joke I heard back before NT 3:

    Q: What machine runs NT best?
    A: A slide projecter.

    Yeah, I know, you've heard it before.

    A coworker who is very experienced with NT says he can configure a department mail/file/web server so that it doesn't need rebooting more than every 3 months. I believe the guy knows what he's talking about. He knows what services to turn off that make NT slow/unstable; he also goes into the registry to tweak things.

    After talking with this fellow, I believe that NT 4.0 has at its core a stable, reasonably good operating system well-suited for small to medium-sized department-level servers. But you have to be an expert to get that -- it doesn't seem to come "out of the box". So the results of this survey don't surprise me much: if you take NT beyond its capabilities, or aren't an expert at tuning it, you're going to struggle.

    Let's face it, though: NT is popular. That is, it sells well. If many of these customers are finding that NT isn't all it's supposed to be, well, you live and learn.

    The lesson from Microsoft, again, would be that marketing excellence is better than technical excellence.

    (BTW, my NT coworker is also a longtime linux/unix user.)

  • SAP is not currently supporting Linux.Check your facts.

    This is from OSS (SAP Online Support System).

    "Perhaps these preconditions will be realised in the future. Today
    Linux R/3 has the status "Research" for SAP and we apologize for only
    providing you with single "unsupported" components on our sapserv

    I believe the official release is scheduled for 2nd or 3rd Qtr 99.

    Another interesting quote from the support note:

    "We are really interested in the extremely fast Linux development and
    some people within SAP are strongly supporting the acceptance of Linux
    as official R/3 platform."

  • I bow to your superior experience in this field, having never actually run SparcLinux (it's on my todo list, somewhere around #2471).

    One minor concern I would have about running SparcLinux would be being able to get hardware support - Knowing Sun, I can imagine phoning up their Support line and getting told that I've invalidated my support contract by running an OS other than Solaris.... :)

    One of the main reasons the company I work for isn't moving from Sun towards Linux is because most of the systems we install are rather large - for example, I'm getting a Sun E4500 w/ 4 x 400 MHz/4MB CPUs, a silly amount of RAM and a pair of fully populated mirrored A5000 fibre channel arrays, ready at the moment which will have a HP 330fx magneto-optical jukebox hitched to the back of it.

    You could try to persuade me to replace the 4500 with a Linux box(es), but you'd have a hard time of it.

  • ...and point out that the E4500 can only handle a maximum of 14 CPUs. I suppose you _could_ fill all 8 slots with CPU/memory boards, but you wouldn't have any disk storage or network connectivity... :)

  • Of course it doesn't - in fact, I agree. :)

    In my case, disk takes two slots - I like having dual-redundant alternate paths to my A5000s, so that if a board or GBIC on either the server or the array fails, I have another completely redundant path to the data.

    The server has two I/O boards (S1 and S2) and each A5000 has two boards (A1 and A2 on the first, B1 and B2 on the mirror). Links go as follows:

    S1 -> A1
    S1 -> B1
    S2 -> A2
    S2 -> B2

    And because array 'B' is a mirror of array 'A', the chances of not being able to get to your data because of multiple board failures become very slim indeed.

    That's what I call high availability. Costs a shitload, but it's not my money - it's our client's - so I don't really care. :)

  • by The Dodger ( 10689 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:45AM (#1922304) Homepage
    A lot of media hype surrounding Linux doesn't make sense because nobody really understands it. Linux was almost completely unknown this time last year, even though companies like Oracle were already working on porting their software to it. Suddenly, it's become this huge bandwagon, which noone really understands, because there's been nothing like it before, and the media end up listening to so-called experts like Matrin Butler, who really know damn-all about Linux and it's capabilities.

    There's been so much hype thrown about by the media, presenting it as the Microsoft-killer and so on. For example, Linux is now being touted as a viable alternative to Windows on the desktop.

    Bollocks, I say. Linux is nowhere near the point where it can compete with Windows on the desktop. It can compete with Windows NT in the server market, yes - As someone else pointed out above, Linux+Samba kicks NT's ass into a sling. In fact, Linux+netatalk also kicks Apple appleshare servers into touch. But, bring Linux to the desktop in the same way as Microsoft managed to do with Windows, will be a long, long haul.

    The fact is, that, on the ground, people are going ahead, implementing Linux as a server for a variety of purposes, and ignoring all the hype. I've installed Linux machines as file, print, mail, web, and database servers. They require a fraction of the administration required by NT and are more stable and more powerful.

    However, would I reccomend a Linux installation for the desktop or for a high-performance mission-critical server? No. I'd reccomend Windows NT workstation (or MacOS) on the desktop and a Sun Enterprise server for the mission-critical stuff.

    In the future, this might change. Linux definitely has a future. At the moment, I'm doing some R&D into Linux/Beowulf/Clustering/High-Availability/distrib uted-database stuff, and it's all very cool. The reduced reliability of Linux on PC hardware is offset by it's lower cost.

    Anyway, the point is that there's no point in trying to predict what's going to happen with Linux. To forecast where something's going to go, you must know from whence it came, and Linux came out of nowhere, so the statisticians don't have any historical data. Add to that the fact that it's a completely new phenomenon - a free operating system hasn't never attained this position in the past, so the statisticians don't even have anything similar that they can use to make a model.

    Everybody's getting all worked up, but it doesn't matter what anyone says - Linux is going where it's going and noone can really influence what happens to it, because noone controls it.

    In fact, it's all rather cool. :)

  • My main job, first inside a company I helped found at the time but which has since moved to other markets, now as a standalone worker has been to replace NT machines with Unix ones in small to medium installations. Using either FreeBSD or Linux in place of NT has been a real breath of fresh air for all concerned. Much less hassle for me (on the remote admin side, with less trouble / easiser access) as well as for users who find that it just plain works, like an information managing appliance should.

    So far I've seen people who insisted on NT giving up and switching to a Unix box (what I first recommended, but, well, they sign the checks).

    Agreed, I so far only work with small setups (10 to 60 machine networks) but in 95% of the cases so far, I've moved NT from a central (server) to a leaf (workstation) position in the networks I work with. And every customer is just thrilled.

    From my experience with both systems (although I admit to not being fully at ease with NT and outsourcing to a real NT person the hairy parts of the maintenance of those machines), NT is just what Windows9x should be, a reasonably evolved desktop system with a few server features bundled in, while Unix is a versatile high end system that just plain works whatever you throw at it.

    NT is perfect to run office applications, serve a few documents and handle local (to the machine) mail (what you'd expect from a decent, simple, single-user desktop system). When it comes to computing, there currently aren't many solutions beyond Unix (unless you get to mainframe level where Unix just doesn't cut it anymore). Maybe small AS/400 systems would also be adequate, I haven't worked with these so far.

    Just a few thoughts from the real world in France...

  • >50% in our group. Though they still dual-boot NT to read Word docs people sent us and to make Powerpoint colored poop...
  • My point is, the OS should be able to handle *anything* period

    Utter bullshit. You can kill almost everything with a good memory leak, or by overloading processes, file handles etc. Happens all the time.
    One can break anything if you screw with it long enough.
  • Otherwise the star ship might blow up half way getting to its destination

    That does happen...
  • I have read the article. I have also done a little research on the parties involved.
    The article was written by Steven Brody of SunWorld. SunWorld is an IDG publication. IDC is IDG's research division. The full text of the report is available for $750.00 US. Since I'm not about to shell out that kind of cash for a report that apparently claims something I already know, I can and did only comment on the article which clearly comes from a biased source.
    The report may actually say something completely different although its unlikely. It's my impression that other reports headed by Dan Kuznetsky are similarly anti-windows.
    I agree with the report as presented in the article. Just because it says somthing you agree with doesn't mean it doesn't deserve the same scrutiny as one that you don't.
  • Although I wholeheartedly agree with most of the conclusions in the article, remember where it came from. Its straight from Sun World [sunworld.com]. The only difference between this and ZD's pro-NT stuff is this might be true ;)
  • that is a high maintenance front end!
  • just place a copy of service pack 3 (SP4 is still too new) on each workstation desktop. Then train your users on how to click on it to install each day before they reboot (this is easy, after all the MCSE's seem to be able to do it)
  • Some people actually do run core business services on NT, although not many. And if you cut through the hype, most people don't run their core business services on Linux, *BSD, SCO, or any other x86 platform either.

    There's a number of reasons for this other than "NT Sux" - x86 server hardware only has started to approach the price/performance of midrange hardware within the last couple years. Also, early versions of Oracle/NT were not very stable, and MS didn't come out with an enterprise competitive DBMS until a couple months ago (SQL 7). Likewise with Linux - the pieces are just now appearing.

    Not to mention that most "core business" applications undergo years of planning and development, and have a self life of 10 years or more. VMS is still alive for this reason, and there's no doubt that a certain part of the Unix/S390/AS400 sales pitch is legacy compatibility. There has not been enough time for most shops to build for NT or Linux or migrate what they've got to newer platforms.

    So, now that all the pieces are there, expect x86 to start getting midrange marketshare, but it's going to be slow going for either Linux or NT. (As was mentioned in the NT vs Linux debate, at $50K - $100K price point, there's a few more options than x86+Linux or x86+NT.) And, yes 390 will live forever.

  • Gee, yesterday at work our NT server went blooey. A department-wide mail stated that all changes to all the files on the network over the past day have been lost.

    The article is correct. All the company jewels are kept on UNIX boxen, and NT is used mainly by PHBs to write memos and Excel spreadsheets.

  • I work with a number of customers right now that are moving their entire businesses onto NT. Some are deploying workstation and server across the enterprise. Some are deploying NT Server, with limited uses of Workstation. The primary use of the NT Servers is to run Oracle/SAP, which are these companies entire busineses. Two of the larger clients have about a 1000 users. They have chosen this route because the software, hardware and consultant costs of commercial UNIXes are incredibly expensive. An OS decision for businesses right now is like buying car insurance. You will eventually get into a car accident. Do you want to pay the highest premium possible just in case, or pay the lower premium and take your chances hoping that you won't crash? A lot of people choose to take the lower premium and gamble. NT is the cheap premium, it has cheap upfront costs. Cheaper upfront costs mean lower expenses which could result in higher profits, certainly higher monthly cash flow. Linux may be both, very low premium and the best insurance for your business. But most companies aren't even seriously thinking about Linux now. They are working on Y2K projects and other initiatives that started before the Linux hype trully got under way. Once they start to seriously evaluate Linux, it will be used more primary because it is cheap. History has proven that the best technology does not always win, price will win nearly everytime. That is the formula that MS has used for 2 decades now. However, I do not believe that anything will be the dominant OS moving forward. Higher market share for Linux will force MS to adopt true open standards. Adoption of true open standards will finally allow the use of any desktop simply because you like that desktop. Just like a car. Everyone does not drive a Japanese manufactured car, even though they were and still are reported to be more reliable than their American manufactured counterparts or have better technology. People will continue to drive Fords and GMs simply because they like the look or the upfront price is cheaper. Honda may go for 250000 miles and never leave you stranded, but it really doesn't matter to most people. Same thing with gas mileage. The higher the gas mileage, the lower your monthly/yearly costs for that vehicle. Yet people are gobbling up SUVs at an incredible rate because they simply like that vehicle. A station wagon or minivan would perform much of the same duties as an SUV, but people simply like the SUVs. NT is more stable than the press has previously led everyone to believe. Gartner Group recently completed a new study on this topic supporting that conclusion. NT is not as stable as Unix, most know that and the stats still bear that out. But NT is stable enough for most needs. I see uptimes of 99.9% or greater for nearly all the NT boxes I have seen. I haven't seen a long range study on Linux stability, but our test boxes have stayed up just as long as our NT boxes, which currently stay up neck and neck with our Digital(Compaq)Unix box. It wasn't always that way, but MS seems to be increasing the stability with each service pack. At least that's my experience, and most people I talk to have seen the same thing.
  • Is anyone else as paranoid about M$ as I am?
    Let's look at an impromptu timeline:

    Media says - under M$ guidance: Microsoft is great! Office is great! NT is the second coming! Buy M$!

    Corporations sue M$ for unfair practices.

    Media keeps exhalting M$.

    DOJ stops investigating and goes to trial.

    Media starts touting the benefits of not only NOT M$, but the only thing non-corporate; Linux.
    This shows that not only does M$ have competition, it shows that anyone can write their own competing software - naming Linux keeps any company from getting media endorsement.

    Now and again, M$ makes statements to keep people from going Linux - full bore, but it doesn't really cut it's marketing deptartment lose either. M$ could market the pants off of Linux, they know it, we know it. They don't do it because it's in their best interest to appear to have plenty of competition - without having that competition localized. M$ can't afford to have it's flagship product blown out of the water by the DOJ.

    What does it mean when the popular media is spouting off about NT being deficient? It makes the public believe that NT is not a strong product. By the time the DOJ case is finished, NT2K will be ready, and the M$ marketing machine will turn it's guns on Linux.

    As for the relative lack of buzz about Office (Melissa aside - since that sort of validated the ID# to the public with an accountability precedent), it just means that the NT2K version of Office, O2K will be either totally NT bound, or available for Linux - just in case the strategy backfires.

    Point being - beware media bearing good press. It's a transitory thing.

    -end rant.
  • This Merill Lynch situation is very common in electronic design. A Unix box for the important stuff and a PC for office apps. There is also lingering desire to consolidate everything on one machine.

    IMHO, the right way to do this is to consolidate is to run the office apps on the Unix box. They exist. Maybe the're not as good/mature as the Windows office apps. But that's not a big deal because the engineer doesn't need these tools all that badly anyway.

    Unfortunately, that's rare. Instead, large companies try the oposite. They run immature design tools on NT.
  • Damn annoying. What ever happened to exploring new ideas? What every happened to the idea of clearing the slate and starting fresh with the best ideas available? This is one of the reasons I can't get excited about Linux. Dispite all the open source hoopla, at it's heart, it's still old cruft. It only looks good because it's better old cruft than the other guy's old cruft.

    BeOS is a good start but the architects were not up on recent development in OS research, and it shows. (When is a useable operating system going to have an object oriented file system? That idea has got to be 10 years old by now)

    Oh well. I guess I miss the 80's.
  • MiX is too buggy. It won't even run Netscape without crashing.

    Actually, almost all the NT X servers are buggy. I evaled more than a dozen. I found exactly *2* that actually worked well. Even the frequently recomended Exceed has font and refresh problems.

    The once that worked were: Xwin-32 and Reflection X. Xwin-32 is $200, Reflection X is $300. Both prices are for 10 or more.
  • I agree with you that NT is what W9x should be, except that NT is absolutely grusome when it comes to legacy 16 bit apps. 9x handles them much more effectively. I've watched NT fall over and die from legacy apps a number of times. Some it simply refuses to even run.
    Other than that, I find 9x to be slow and balky.
  • Do you run your NT boxes on NT certified hardware? I've seen rooms full of NT boxes, and they were semi-constantly being "rebuilt". In many people's experience, NT (and other Microsoft software) has a habit of comiting suicide. It has way too much of a reputation for being suicidal to ignore that.

    I don't think that it's as much NT's kernel as NT's structure - being a black box (with hazy error messages), there's not much that you can do as a user to fix things. Linux (and UNIX in general) is very open, so when some library isn't working, you fix/replace the library, not the whole OS. When an NT library isn't working properly, your usual recourse is reboot/reinstall.

    I'm not saying that there aren't some exceptions, but NT, especially to one is isn't a guru, isn't nearly as fixable as a UNIX box is (especially a Linux box).

    Anyhow, this isn't meant as a mindless NT bashing session, but just poiting out that NT does have some problems in this area. About 50% of the NT boxes in a bank that I worked for had a habit of comiting suicide on a semi-regular basis. Note: this isn't as much those NT boxes running only on-CD stuff, but those running third party apps (like citrix, watermark, and securID). NT does seem to be fairly stable if you haven't installed anything that comes doesn't come on the NT CD.

    The primary domain controller was really funny. It would continually keep eating up memory until it exhaused memory, then it would die. And it was a dual PPro 200 with 256 MB RAM. Pretty funny to watch, actually.
  • Data warehouse/mart is precisely where I would not go with NT for both performance and reliability reasons. This is one sector where Microsoft's marketing and Linux are going to collide head-on. You can get stuff done in the Microsoft arena, but it's such a chore. Don't even get me started on SQL Server performance.

    Lightweight data marts using even MySQL look feasible for many organizations looking into this, who will be put off by the big iron/big ticket entry level for traditional data warehouse development. DB2 on Linux makes me very happy, on the other hand. People talk about the flakiness of PC hardware, but that applies primarily to knockoff boxes. At the server end is a lot of hardware misappropriated to running flaky buggy Windows stuff, and destined for a stark choice in the near future: W2K or Linux. I already know where I am going.

  • It's not NT, really. Excel is the all-time champion memory leaker. It's so bad I'd put it in a category all by itself, even above browsers.

  • I don't agree with the idea that W95 runs 16 bit apps better than NT. Quite the opposite, from my view, and I run a lot of 16-bit stuff on NT (Word 2.0, for example :) The problem I do have is with 32-bit apps that won't run on NT 3.51, so I have NT 4.0 on my big database server.

    I used W95 when it was in beta for a week in May 1995, erased it and reinstalled NT 3.51. I have never regretted it. I avoid even helping my friends fix their W95/98 problems. What should take 10 minutes often becomes an open-ended 8 to 12 hour repair job. I have never had any real trouble with NT, it's just slower and a little less stable than I'd like, and the security is not nearly as good as it should be. My big Perl data jobs run twice as fast under Linux as NT on the same box (even without tuning).

  • The biggest drawback to NT 4 (SPx) is that the security has gone from terrible to merely bad.

    It still amazes me that Microsoft, the ultimate "grab the good ideas from the competition and bundle them into the OS" outfit, has not seen fit to install a decent port monitor, much less something like tcp wrappers. This borders on criminal negligence, in my view.

    All the same, I use NT for some fairly big database projects (some in the multi-gigabyte data range) and it is solid as long as it's not running memory leakers like browsers or (yikes) Excel.

  • First of all, a small correction: XENIX was an early Microsoft product, but their first was Tiny BASIC.

    A more serious matter: NT is not based on Unix, its roots are more in VMS. Read Helen Custer's excellent Inside Windows NT which explains the history in interesting detail. I actually like NT the operating system; it's the Windows architecture and especially the W95-look-and-feel subsystems that run on top of it that I find excruciating. I still use NT 3.51 as my primary desktop because the interface doesn't get in my way as much. (Fear not, Linux fans, I already have Debian running and it will be where I "live" once my project migration is done).

    Finally, a broader point, fair is in the business person's lexicon, or else they will be saying hello to Mr. Tax Inspector or Ms. Prosecutor on transgressions of business law. As Mr. Gates himself discovered, somewhat to his astonishment, the authorities do take these things seriously, at some eventual point.

  • The article states:
    A typical Unix server, said Kuznetsky, supports roughly 25 clients, a typical NetWare server supports 25 to 30 clients, and an NT-based system supports about 16 clients.

    Anyone know how they're deriving these figures? What constitutes a client? It can't be something as simple as a pageview on a web server, or else those numbers would be a good deal bigger.

  • but can anyone honestly say that AMEX or NASDAQ could run their transactions on it? or serve a site like cnn.com?

    One sanity check: what does Slashdot itself run on? Slashdot has to take at least as many hits as the sites being slashdotted, yet Rob's machine handles the load while sites like CNN are effectively shut down by it. This sounds to me like Linux is better at serving sites than whatever CNN is using.

  • NT and Linux are about the same age

    This is true, more or less.

    and both are based on UNIX

    While there are some influences from UNIX in NT, it is more accurate to say it is based on MicroVMS. The same guy that was the principal designer of NT was the same guy that was Digital's main architect for VMS.

    Linux is often criticized for being based on UNIX, which has been around for about 30 years. However NT is based on VMS (which was based on RSTS/11 & RSX/11) and MS-DOS (which was based on CP/M which was based on RSTS/RSX). When you go back to the common ancestor, NT's lineage is also about 30 years. The most ironic thing about the 'N' in NT was that there was really nothing new at all in it.

    Just how many of you knew what Microsoft's first product was? XENIX

    Actually their first product was Altair BASIC. They didn't do XENIX until much later. It was a variant (AT&T licensed) of Version 7 UNIX. They did do XENIX before MS-DOS (which was a clone of CP/M) and they did copy the concept of heirarchial subdirectories from UNIX, albiet they used backslash instead of slash for the directory seperator (because CP/M and MS-DOS 1.x used slash for the command line parameter flag instead of dash as commonly used in UNIX).

  • I work with NT at work (and am an MCSE, boo and hiss if you want), but I also have a Red Hat box at home. It's nice, no question.

    Here's a point that I think is missed: NT and Linux are about the same age! Both really got underway in the late 80's/early 90's (depending on your dating system), and both are based on UNIX. (Just how many of you knew what Microsoft's first product was? XENIX.) NT has made huge gains in the Enterprise market, considering it started from ZERO and is 1/2 to 1/3 the age of most flavors of UNIX.

    Funny, how many folks here will poo-poo that accomplishment, yet praise Linux for it's growth.

    Anyway, all I really want to say is this: MS is no more the evil empire than IBM was, or Commodore back in the 8 bit days. It's cool to hate the establishment, but ultimately it is just hot air. The market will change on it's own, it always does.

    Also, if any of you owned Microsoft instead of Bill Gates and didn't try to co-opt or take out the cometition, you're either very noble or an idiot. That's why it's called business! Fair is not part of the businessman's lexicon!

    If Linux (somehow) slays Microsoft and becomes the OS de jure in, say, 2004... what happens next? Will a bunch of folks, disguntled at how standardized Linux had to become to support all the hardware and apps out there splinter off and make yet ANOTHER OS?

    Just my rant,

    ...There are no such things as orbital mind control lasers.
  • Unbelievable.

    Someone in the non-tech world finally reports what most of us have known for years -- that NT doesn't measure up. Quoting the CNN article:

    1. "Media reports often leave the impression that Windows NT is being adopted by organizations of all sizes for every conceivable mission and that organizations are abandoning their investments in other operating environments..."
    Sad but true. I've seen a number of big corporations bite into NT (marketing) hook, (IT policy) line, and s(t)inker.
    It generally costs them market leadership and at least a few million dollars to recover, by the way.
    1. "However, when IDC shines the light of empirical research on Windows NT usage, a different view emerges."
    As other posts have noticed, the technology press hasn't been very willing to expose -- or even research this. Why not? May I suggest a simple reason? M$ spends tens of millions of dollars to promote lies -- to the extent that 80% of the consumer and IT press have become dependant on the flow of dollars from Microsoft advertising. This makes it very difficult for the truth to buy mindspace from the magazine's powers that be.

    HP gets a similar benefit in reporting about printers and scanners, by the way. Good products (better than the crap from M$, at least) but most publications aren't that interested in critically reviewing HP devices because of the feared loss of advertising revenue.

    Another reason to promote Linux, in my book. The Linux community excels at first exposing the problems, then fixing them or helping companies to get them fixed. Our loyalty is to excellence first, companies second. IMHO, the "truth will be told" mind set of Linux users and developers is the major reason we will succeed in overthrowing the beast from Redmond.

  • Since you seem so knowledgable about NT, could you tell me why my NT box runs out of memory so fast, even when you close out all the applications? All applications seem to do this, including Access, Excel and Outlook. Any tips?
  • There is such a file on my network which I run once in awhile in hope that one day memory leaks would disappear. Are you saying that if I run daily the problems would go away?
  • I use task managers to shut them down all the times. Neither virtual or real memories are reclaimed.
  • Neither Unix nor OS2 where the father of NT. It was VMS (other slashdot stories mentioned this several times). VMS's kernel is multitasking, but not multiuser, and so is NT... (only a small group still uses VMS, and so will NT in a few months...)

    NT also has DOS and Windows compatibility (it had and still has to run DOS executables) since the first days, as otherwise no one ever would have adopted NT, if there wasn't a huge base of applications available. That's, also what makes DOS/Win/NT still alive: backwards compatibility (=possibility to execute old programs on the "new" OS).

    Why Unix/Linux is better? Unix is the de-facto incarnation of all OS-research/science teached at Universities (there can't be anything better).

    Markus Senoner (PhD in CS)
  • I heard "somewhere" that Microsoft sold Xenix to SCO with the promise the Microsoft would never compete in the "Unix market".

    Anyone have any more information?

  • by Khan ( 19367 )
    Yeah...like we didnt all know this to be true. But it certainly is nice to see it in print(G). Anyways, now I can email this to my boss's boss who's an NT suck-ass regardless of the number of times it crashes on him and we have to repair it. And, after seeing Bill speak at COMDEX on Monday I can tell you that the "spin control" on Win2K is even worse than on NT4. It was surreal.
  • " Now finally Jim Allchin from MS admitted NT 4.0 was less reliable than 3.51."

    Do you think Win2000 will be better. First I'm buying up 12 months worth of NT4.0 so they can't force me to use Win2000 as they forced me to switch from 3.51 to 4.0. I'm not taking the risk. and 2) I am making dam sure NT can be shown the back door.
  • Let's look at one software vendor whose entire business is providing mission critical business software - SAP. Over half of the new licenses they sell (and it's been this way for about 2 years) are for SAP R/3 on NT with Oracle/NT as the DB.

    Most of the other vendors in the high end and mid-market enterprise space report the same trends.

    Contrast that to Linux use for mission critical apps, SAP is unable to produce a single customer reference for R/3 on Linux, although the support for Linux has really only been recently provided.

    Over time, NT will definitely face stronger competitive forces. Be objective and don't believe the spin just because it's of the flavor you prefer!
  • Hmm... I work at a fortune 500 company and we run everything from SAP to our Web Servers to our Data Warehouse on down on NT and Intel boxes. Works pretty well.
  • but know i can show this article to my boss. :-)
  • Well, I hate to disagree, but having run SunOs and Sparc Linux on the same hardware, I would say that SparcLinux is more reliable and faster. Maybe PC hardware is less reliable than SUN hardware, but when you can repair/replace it on site within minutes it works out more efficient than using Suns.

    Actually my work is migrating away from suns and towards Linux... sometimes Sun hardware running Sparc Linux simply because of the cost/performance savings.

  • At Merrill Lynch, every trader has a NT box, and a Sun Workstation. The Sun is used for all of the mission critical stuff, the actual trading, the recording of the trading, getting stock quotes, ect. Everything.

    They use NT for Internet, Email (ms exchange server) and Microsoft Office. Stuff they hardly need at all. most traders have two windows open under NT, Excel and Outlook 97.
  • I wonder how many NT workstations (came with NT preloaded) are doing mainly Linux or *BSD. I bet this inflates Microsoft's figures, too. One of the reasons that Dell and the others are now preloading Linux is because a lot of their customers (myself included) were using Linux instead of NT. Anyone have any clue as far as the percentages?
  • So you fix it so it doesn't break so easily.
  • All I can offer is anectdotal evidence.

    In our organization the rule is one new Exchange server for every 1000 mailboxes, i.e. 1 NT Server = 1000 clients. and we typically see uptimes of over 99%.

    I saw an article a while back that said the typical uptimes for NT experience by different shops differed by a factor of ten. Those shops who practiced configuration control a la the old Mainframe days saw the best uptimes.
  • IBM and Microsoft were jointly developing OS/2 when the famous "divorce" happened. At that time each went their own way with the code. Microsoft created NT 3.1 and IBM gave us OS/2 2.0. Each company obviously made drastic changes to the code and rewrote much of it, but that doesn't change the fact that each has a common source. Xenix was not Microsoft's first product. Their first product was a Basic interpreter for the Altair 8800. From there they went on to create other language products. Dos they bought from Tim Patterson in 79-80. Xenix was their version of unix which ran on a 286. They later sold it to SCO becoming SCO Xenix and eventually evolving into SCO Unix which you still have today. I've often heard the claim that NT is based off unix, most likely becuase it claims posix compliance. I think anyone can see that a product being compliant (somewhat in NT's case) with a standard created from unix is not the same as that product being derived from unix.

  • Oh well. I guess I miss the 80's.

    We need an operating system designed by Cyndi Lauper and David Lee Roth.

    That would kick ass.

  • NT and Linux are .. both based on UNIX.

    Dave Cutler might disagree with that assessment.

    NT and Linux are about the same age! .. NT has made huge gains in the Enterprise market, considering it started from ZERO .. Funny, how many folks here will poo-poo that accomplishment, yet praise Linux for it's growth.

    For this observation to have even the slightest bit of validity, you would have to assume that both operating systems started off on equal ground. This, of course, isn't true. Linux, at its outset, was the brainchild of some Finnish graduate student and was of interest to kernel hackers, not to the decision-making managers in IT shops (many of whom would have problems pointing Finland out on a map.) NT, on the other hand, was the ultra-hyped brainchild of a large corporation that already had an effective stranglehold on the desktop. Is anybody surprised that lots of people blindly went to NT? I'm not. Brand name, dude .. brand name.

    If Linux (somehow) slays Microsoft and becomes the OS de jure in, say, 2004... what happens next?

    Why does this have to happen? Why must there be only one operating system (or family of operating systems) in widespread use? The concept of an "OS de jure" is an artifact of the current mindset of many in the industry. The truth is that the ideal situation is many popular and interoperable operating environments, none of them being the "OS de jure." Open standards is what will make this possible, and this is why Linux (among others) is good for everybody .. even those who have never heard of it! As "alternative" operating systems gain increasing acceptance, it becomes more and more difficult for Microsoft to pollute the open standards that make the industry work today.

    This is good for everybody.
  • While it is true most of the big corporations are still using *nix equipment for "mission critical" data applications, many are in the process of making the switch over to NT. I think it mostly comes from the top floor execs. They know how 95/98 works and they see that NT looks the same. But, as I'm sure many of you know, it's quite a different beast.

    Contrary to popular belief, it is NT stable though. I read a few of the previous posts, and noticed how it was mentioned quite a few times that NT really needs to be tweaked to get the best performance out of it. Isn't this true of any OS? You all know, no matter what distribution, Linux is not an "out of the box" solution, neither is Solaris, MacOS, OpenStep, etc. As for supporting NT, yeah, I agree it's a pain in the ass to support people who don't know how to use the damn OS. But again, like for your favorite flavor of unix, it's also a pain. That's why there's an Admin account on these OS'. Users shouldn't be able to tweak their sytems to death. Giving some schmoe a root account on their Sun machine is like giving a torque wrench and a Porsche to a monkey. They're bound to destroy it.
  • NT is not a capable OS ? Then why are you using an incapable OS where exists alternatives ?
  • by RNG ( 35225 ) on Thursday April 22, 1999 @06:04AM (#1922352)
    In my experience (I administer both NT and UNIX server) NT is fine as long as you don't throw high loads at it. We havea 4-CPU NT server (2 GB RAM) which still has to be rebooted from time to time because really random things break if we really bang on the server for a while.

    Linux on the other hands, has been running in our office on an old crappy P90 laptop for 5 Months straight now handling web serving, web surfing and the occasional compiling of Gtk+/Gnome stuff.

    Or Solaris machine which runs about 10 reasonably big Oracle databases, has been running without a hitch for something like a year now ... although after being used to Linux, I find the default software Sun ships (no compilers, etc.) on the anemic side ... I don't think a comercial UNIX can match the quiality and the amount of tools your typical Linux install comes with ...

    Of course NT beams you straight into GUI land from Hell which positiveley blows chunks once you're comfotable with the UNIX command line ...
  • About a year ago Byte had an excellent article regarding reliability. In comparing PCs to Mainframes one of the biggest differences was the administration. As expert sysadmin can do wonders for uptime, regardless of the OS.

    At the place I used to work they have a NT server that is maintained by the Service Manager for the store, while in the publishing dept. the Graphic Designer is using an almost identical box, but the system crashes almost daily. (This guy is a real twit...)

    From this experience it seems alot of it is in the admin, rather than the OS.
  • An ideal solution for some people is to run NT on their desks with an X-server. I used to do this at work- I could open up xterms to a BSD box whenever I needed them, and had NT there for client-side stuff like web surfing.

    Better borwsers for linux would solve this problem, but I don't see major browser vendors focusing too much on linux (compared to nt,95/98 and Mac) for the foreseeable future.
  • I work in a DC as well, and we have probably 200+ NT workstations throughtout the DC. But all they are used for is to run a terminal emulator so everyone can access the mainframe, which is a Tandem system.

Promising costs nothing, it's the delivering that kills you.